I discover something new – for me – at least once a day. Today’s discovery startled me and I feel obligated to share it. First, a little background.

I like shooting sports, the ones where I can use a shotgun to blast clay targets out of the sky – trap, skeet, sporting clays, etc. I’m pretty good considering I just started in 2009 when I was only 63. In trap, for example, I generally break 90 of every hundred, and on good days the number is closer to 95. One hundred is such an imposing goal.

Last Sunday I did very well, crushing 92. I returned to the range last evening (Tuesday) and did miserably. Of six rounds I got 20 out of 25 just once. Some were even under 15. It wasn’t late, but driving home was a burden as fatigue was setting in and it was difficult to focus. I slept poorly and awoke with pains in my knees, left hip, and right shoulder. I felt unsteady and actually missed the turn into the kitchen – banging my right shoulder into the door frame. I slid my feet into my shoes and darned near toppled over.

I went to breakfast with a ROMEO group (Real Old Men Eating Out) and had some difficulty “finding the right words”. One of the guys asked if I was feeling okay. I’ve been up and active now for about six hours and the “symptoms” seem to be diminishing. The pains are all but gone, my focus is better, and I don’t feel as unsteady on my feet. I won’t know about my shooting ability until later – tonight or tomorrow. I suspect (hope?) that will have returned to normal.
What the heck happened between supper at 5:15 PM and shooting at 7:00 PM? This may be premature or “jumping the gun”, but I am inclined to conclude that my “problems” are the result of something I ate.

One of my friend’s mother sent over a big batch of fresh, handmade tamales. Some were beef. As a special treat, she included some of the “sweet” ones – colored a bright pink. For those unfamiliar with Hispanic cuisine, tamales are made with lots of massa (a starchy dough made from corn). Meat is wrapped in a fistful of massa, then wrapped in a dried corn husk. They are cooked – usually steamed – until the massa has congealed. I figure I consumed a good eight to twelve ounces of massa at supper. Nobody can nibble on a tamale and it is impossible to eat just one. I am thinking I experienced a reaction to the corn. While it certainly wasn’t a typical allergic reaction, there is evidence that I reacted with widespread systemic inflammation that affected my joints, vision, and cognition.

I wouldn’t be explaining all of this – and my conclusion – if this is the only time I’ve had a similar reaction. I cannot eat sweetcorn and I get gastric upset if I have a meal that contains even small amounts of corn. Most soda pops leave me feeling unwell and I suspect the high fructose corn syrup is partly to blame. I can drink one cocktail that contains bourbon or whiskey, but only one. Number two tastes bad – even when number one was delicious. This does not happen with tequila, rum, most wines and brandies. Bourbon and whiskey are made from corn mash, which is actually just what it sounds like.

Approximately 18 hours after eating the tamales I’m feeling closer to normal and I suspect improvements will continue throughout the day. If all of this was caused by corn, I find that I’m not alone. A quick search on Google revealed a huge number of similar reports. Whatever the underlying mechanism – inflammation, allergy, gluten, GMO fragments – the result is unpleasant and I will do my best to avoid corn products from today onward. It won’t be easy because so many products today contain corn or substances derived from corn.

It seems probable that many of us have similar allergies and sensitivities to food (or what passes as food today). Most go unnoticed and we blame problems on it being “just one of those days”. But, what if those days can be predicted and avoided?

It seems worth it to find triggers that may be turning your systems against you -and then avoiding them. Within this presentation is a kernel (yes, pun intended) of my philosophy of health. We are perfect and we only suffer harm from the outside. Things that can trigger symptoms are all around us and we can discover the worst ones and avoid them. Finally, I think this issue is behind or under all of the conditions that we now refer to as immune diseases. They also seem to be escalating as our food supply is declining. Yes, what we refer to as food today isn’t very similar to what a lot of us were brought up with.

When you have “one of those days” take a look at what you ate in the past 24 hours. What you find may startle you too.

The following Saturday found me back “in the groove” and I was doing well. Sunday was fine. The real test would be Tuesday evening, a week after the disaster. I did well – a little off my average – but good enough to be invited to fill in on a team that was missing a member. My scores wouldn’t count, but it made me feel good knowing that I held my own.

None of the above is scientific and I’m certainly not stating for fact that corn is a toxin – though it wouldn’t surprise me to find a study that says it is. There are numerous things that could have been responsible for my recent discomfort – including I could have contracted a simple virus that my body eliminated in the span of a couple of days. For now, though, I am accepting that corn can be a problem for me. I’m avoiding it (as well as wheat) and I feel better than I did twenty years ago.

The take away message? When something unusual happens, look for anything different in your everyday life. There might be a connection. If so, make changes – before running off to the emergency room, urgent care, or your doctor’s office. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re experiencing something extremely serious. In general, My Ten Day Rule is worth following.